Rhizome asked writers and artists to help us count down the final hours of the year by sharing internet things to remember from 2017, because those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
How do you summarize the hellfire of a year that was 2017? There’s so much to cover! Where to start? Rather than let this list get very dark, very quickly, I wanted to focus on some of the Internet Things that made me pause, made me smile, and gave me some hope.
1. Chelsea Manning’s Emoji Use
Chelsea Manning’s use of emoticons and emojis to express joy, make jokes, offer support and send up dumb motherfuckers on Twitter. She is bringing a joy to the Internet that is equal parts earnestness and snark, backed by a foundational leftist activism, and I 👏 am 👏 here 👏 for 👏 it. 👏
#MeToo was important for so many reasons: the movement was started by a woman of color (crucial given that the dominant conversation already excludes so many WOC voices). The hashtag is potentially causing a real sea change. Of course, it is not without its problems, and it is yet to be determined whether we’re in the midst of actual cultural change, a flash in the pan zeitgeist, or a fade, but for now, #MeToo is creating much-needed dialogue around sexual harassment.
3. Slicey Bois
I’d call this a burgeoning meme as it is not widely used. Ben Gullard, an artist and classmate from my master’s program, posted this celebration of guillotines, newly called “slicey bois,” on Facebook. Perhaps it’s the happenstance of discovery, since it appeared in my timeline right after the Republican Senate voted for the largest overhaul of the US tax code in 30 years, one that enable drilling in the Arctic, attacks core components of the Affordable Care Act, and treats corporations better than people. So, I loved the idea of the slicey boi, as well as the timing of when it appeared in my feed. Why not have more guillotine memes shared by teens, just as US Republicans are having very much a “let them eat cake” moment?
4. Expanding Brain/Whomst
Generally, I love all expanding brain memes, but this one and its variations, especially. Grammar correction is deployed as a petty tool in digital conversations. It’s fascinating to watch used in debates, because the move is both incredibly disarming, and it is designed to be that way. Seeing a meme that then uses made up formal grammar to mock this pettiness is hilarious.
5. Astro Poets Twitter
The Astro poets Twitter account is devoted to take downs, send ups, poetry, emotions and humor. Astro poets, who write an astrology column for W Magazine, strike a perfect balance between activism, humor, and hope, between reminding us that words can’t be banned because poets exist, beautifully written horoscope tweets, and calling out star sign bullshit.
6. Bail Bloc
Bail Bloc is one of my favorite activism and art projects of the year. It can be incredibly effective; it was incredibly well researched and executed, and it is the best use of a cryptocurrency I’ve seen out there.
7. Twitter’s Redemption
This. Thread. Right. Here. It reminded me of why I love(d) Twitter, which is harder now with the continuing harassment and the Nazis. Sometimes there’s magic on Twitter, a very broken product with broken leadership that doesn’t seem to care about community.
8. RIP Vine, RIP AIM
This year saw the death of Vine and AIM, too. Rest in Peace. RIP. We will miss you, for forever. You were too good for us, and we didn’t deserve you, but we will remember you. A/S/L and seven second videos 4ever.
9. Wendy’s Social Media
I briefly worked in advertising and was allowed to write tweets for Mastercard (why would anyone let me do that is beyond me) but I learned just how much copywriting and approval goes into managing a brand’s social accounts. These clapbacks from Wendy’s are on point and fucking savage, because either Wendy’s HQ DGAF or they are super on board with being assholes. Either way, it’s amazing.
10. Congressional Edit Tracking
Consider CongressEdits, a bot that tracks all of the edits made from the IP address of the US Congress. You can see things like the Sean Hannity article or human feces or the legend of Zelda videogame being edited. You know, really important political stuff.